For the second straight season, forward TJ Tynan has been named the Most Valuable Player of the American Hockey League. Tynan has spent the majority of the year with the Ontario Reign, scoring a league-leading 84 assists which made up most of his 98 points.
The 30-year-old led an Ontario power play that broke the league’s all-time record with a 27.5% conversion rate this season. Tynan had a hand himself in 49 of the Reign’s power play goals, which not only led the AHL by a wide margin, but were also more than the amount of power play goals for 12 different teams in the league.
“It’s a tremendous award and a great honor,” Tynan said. I’m very fortunate to be here. It’s a great team, we’ve got a lot of great people around me, the staff, coaches, players, so it’s a tremendous honor for sure.”
From the Reign’s press release:
Tynan becomes the first MVP winner in Ontario Reign team history, and just the fifth player in league history to win back-to-back MVP awards, joining Paul Gardner (1985-86), Gilles Villemure (1969-70), Johnny Bower (1956-57-58) and Carl Liscombe (1948-49), and the seventh to win at least twice in his career. He won his first MVP award with the Colorado Eagles following the 2020-21 season, when he recorded 35 points in 27 games.
Tynan scored 98 points in 62 games for the Reign during the regular season, which was the highest for any skater over a full AHL season in the last 15 years.
His 84 assists tied for the third-most in a season in AHL history, and he remarkably went consecutive games without an assist just twice all year. His production included 32 multiple-point games – compared to just 11 games with zero points – and a 13-game assist streak from Mar. 22 to Apr. 22 that was the longest in the AHL since 2012.
Last season, Tynan was with the Colorado Eagles when he claimed the award for the first time in his career. He’s now preparing to face his old team in the postseason, with the Reign set for a best-of-5 clash with Colorado beginning on Wednesday in the Rocky Mountains.
Ontario’s coaching staff broke the news to Tynan and the team together this morning in a meeting before the team’s practice at Toyota Sports Performance Center.
“Guys were just super pumped,” said Reign Assistant Coach Chris Hajt. “They’re so happy for TJ and respect him so much and it was really fun for us to be able to bring it out. It’s a neat thing to be able to celebrate. Just like when he, [Jordan] Spence and [Martin] Frk were on the All-Star team, those are great things to be able to share with the team because ultimately we’re a family and we all care about each other so much.”
The news came at a good time to give the group a little extra energy as they begin to ramp things back up for their second postseason series of the spring.
“They were pumped for sure,” Tynan said when asked what the team’s reaction was. “The coaches told us and that they were all fired up for me which means the world to me obviously, those are the guys that matter most.”
T.J. Tynan, MVP.
— American Hockey League (@TheAHL) May 9, 2022
Compared to last season when he only suited up for 27 games, this year Tynan was on the ice for more than twice that amount, playing in 62 contests. But even though the structure of the season was different, Tynan said that winning the award around his current group of teammates made him feel like it was a new experience.
“Yeah it’s definitely different,” Tynan said. “I mean and it’s a totally different group of guys obviously which makes it pretty cool that we can all celebrate a little bit. It’s obviously different, but it’s still very cool.”
The Reign team has considered itself a tight-knit group right from the start of the season and Tynan has been a big part of that, counting as one of the leaders while wearing a letter on his chest. Beginning with their first practice, Tynan has been on a line with Martin Frk, another skater who wears a letter. The two have combined to form the league’s most dynamic duo and on 27 of the 40 instances Frk put the puck in the back of the net, Tynan recorded one of the assists.
“It’s been awesome, I can’t state that enough. They’ve been amazing. Obviously, to take this team to where we’ve gotten to, we’re hoping to play a little longer here so we’ll see where it goes but obviously it’s a tremendous year so far. They’ve been amazing, top to bottom so like I said hopefully we can play for a month or so, a couple weeks more.”
What a shot by TJ Tynan! pic.twitter.com/nFJBz7O9rS
— Ontario Reign (@ontarioreign) May 6, 2022
Hajt has had nothing but praise for Tynan this season, and that didn’t change on Monday when asked about what he has meant to the Reign and their success moving up the Pacific Division standings.
“He’s a terrific leader and such a competitor,” Hajt said. “He takes such pride in his craft, and how he plays and wants to win. He’s been a tremendous part of our team, coming in new, fitting in, leading, I can’t say enough about what he’s done.”
Both Hajt and the team’s General Manager, Richard Seeley, have noted on multiple occasions the standard that Tynan conducts himself to each day and what it does for every player in the locker room, no matter how old they are or the amount of experience they have in pro hockey.
“He holds himself to a high standard and he expects that out of his teammates,” Hajt said. “Then he shows it by how he plays. He wants to be the best player on the ice every night and he plays with intensity and a passion and that comes through and rubs off on his teammates and everybody in the organization. When there’s key moments and key plays that need to be made, he makes them and we’re thankful he’s on our team.”
With some more hardware marked for his trophy case, Tynan is focused on his and the Reign’s next obstacle as his former team awaits in what is expected to be a closely contested series. More on that coming this week on LAKI, as we’ll have a full preview before Game 1 between Ontario and Colorado begins Wednesday night!